Malaysia is a unique country so much so it is an envy to many people (or countries). We are the only country in the world (or one in a few) with a constitutional monarchy system and a unique King rotating system; multi ethnics, culture, language and religion; which achieve stability in politics, economy and social standing. Who (or which country) wouldn’t envy us? And recently we see how other countries start to stir our harmony and stability.
As a country, our leaders have often strived to be inclusive and have policies which cover almost every ethnics possible. I am not talking only about the Malays, Chinese and Indians but also Kadazan, Iban, Murut and the list goes on.
Yes, there were unfair policies including education, business opportunities and housing discounts, among major grouses by the public.
Tun Mahathir said in an interview that he was labelled as ultra-racist by many Chinese in the country but as long as the Malays and bumiputras (indigenous) are well taken care of, at the same time non-bumis are give fair opportunities, BN can still win. Many Chinese tycoons were also produced during Tun M’s era yet these tycoons seldom regard government policies and business opportunities as their benefactor.
Pak Lah has tried his way to be more liberal, more open and even started the ball rolling with fighting corruptions. His quick plans were also eventually failed, as the results of 12th General Elections proved.
Let’s face it, corruptions is best known to be associated with the Chinese. People once said, wherever you find a Chinese in any part of the world, there is always a relationship with corruptions and gambling. Some even said Chinese taught the Malays to corrupt. Eventually, I suspect and believe, it was the Chinese who voted against Pak Lah administration forcing a change of premier to Najib. The Chinese cannot survive without corruptions. It was almost the only way to survive especially with bumi-favoured policies in the country. Even when we don’t talk about policies, a big percentage of the public will also bribe a police if slapped with a summon. Some went to the extend to say bribing a police is small compared to corruptions of politicians but hey, corruption is corruption, big or small and it all started small!
Malaysia is also one unique country where the President of a Malay party automatically becomes the Prime Minister. To win in a Malay party, a President candidate must prove that he can protect the interests of Malays. Almost all top leaders of this party has once played the racial card to the maximum. Labelling non-Malays as pengkhianat, raising the keris to irk the non-Malays and aggressively fights for the Malays are a few acts to score point among members in the party.
However, being a Prime Minister was different. A Prime Minister was meant for all Malaysians, not just for the Malays. That despite being a leader in a Malay party, using Malay-centric promises and promises to protect the Malays.
Learning from Pak Lah’s mistake in rolling out open policies too soon and knowing the need to protect Malays support, Najib has been very careful in rolling out 1Malaysia programs.
While the Chinese thinks 1Malaysia means we will finally have fair policies and some even thought of the removal of bumi special policies, the Malays felt a sense of fear and uneasiness. Just like how most of us felt when petrol is going to increase by a mere 10sen per litre. We feel a pinch even when 10sen was going to be lifted of the subsidy, just imagine how most Malays will feel when more people asked that their special policies removed? That wasn’t just worth 10sen per litre.
Then, even until now, the 1Malaysia concept is so ambiguous. Some said 1Malaysia meant we accept each other and help each other grow in this bumi-centric country. Some said 1Malaysia means unity and how we live together harmoniously. The fact is no one will have a clear definition of 1Malaysia until it is proven a success. Imagine Najib saying, we will live as ONE Malaysia, one level playing field and fairness for all. How will the Malays support him to be the next President aka Malaysia PM?
If he says, 1Malaysia is meant for the Chinese and garner support from the Chinese, he won’t get support from both sides too. But then again, Malays know well that 1Malaysia was really mainly for the Chinese and to garner support from this most difficult ethnic group. 1this 1that and so much efforts by Najib including visiting the Dong Zhong (the very first by a PM), visiting Batu Caves, mega dinners with the Chinese, going to the ground just to meet more Chinese (and Indians), visiting China a few times to strengthen ties so Chinese can expand business in China smoothly, receiving an Indian premier with much hoo-hah, up to the extend where China granted us the “loan” of 2 precious pandas, even pondering to make UEC recognised by the government.
Yet the Chinese did not give enough votes to Najib, making GE13 the worst ever for BN. Many also brought forward baggages for Najib although mostly not being implemented during Najib’s administration. NFC, PKFZ are not during Najib’s administration. Diamond ring was proven a lie.
People chose to trust lies rather than truths. People chose to believe the indelible ink was BN’s trick to drag voting process to drive away voters and so that they won’t be able to vote in time by 5pm. The truth was the indelible was something so much wanted that people had to go on the streets 3 times for Bersih rallies. People chose to believe there were Bangladeshis hired to vote and that there were ICs with expired date, blocking Bangladeshi-looking people from voting. If I were to have phantom voters I’d choose Chinese nationals, they have the same skin colour as our locals and are aplenty here in Malaysia. People chose to believe that there was a blackout and additional vote boxes were added to the list when the blackout occurred. Not many people understand how the whole voting process works and how votes are being monitored and counted by both sides of the divide.
As a PM, after experimenting these, do you think you will consider continuing same amount of efforts in supporting the Chinese community? As the party election is looming, also many Malays have criticised Najib sidelining the Malays since taking over as a PM, as well as to thank the majority bumiputra voters who voted for BN, Najib has no choice but to role out a bumiputra economic plan to the bumis.
And this too, will get criticised by the non-bumis but alas, no MCA representatives in the government to voice rejection already. With more and more racial tension on the way, I don’t see how both bumi-centric policies or a Chinese-friendly PM would solve the problem.
Being involved in the last general elections as a Parliament candidate has made understand a lot of things including practising empathy on both politicians and the public. While I understand why the PM would make such decisions viewed as racist, I also can understand why the Chinese refused to support BN.
The Chinese thinks that the core of the root problems were not solved. As mentioned earlier, these are long-time haunting problems include fairness in education, business contracts and opportunities by the government and housing policies.
The Chinese neither care how many pandas we are getting from China nor mega dinners involving mostly elderly folks. The younger generations held grudges and avenge that they were not granted equal opportunities for tertiary education at local universities, forcing their parents digging into coffers to support their studies at private universities. Education is of utmost importance for Chinese and some parents loaned money, worked harder, sold their properties and even staked their last penny for their children’s education. Even so, some government officials made stupid claims that Chinese are all rich and could afford high tuition fees by just looking at racial statistics and comparisons between private and public universities. The high number of Chinese in the private universities is a reflection of the low number of Chinese granted entry at public universities, not because of their wealth.
The Chinese, just like any Malaysian, worked hard, study even harder to finally get good results. Yet, the reward awaiting these high scorers was the fact that Malays with lower grades get into the public university easily while they themselves do not even get to choose the courses they so wanted. Imagine an ambitious student, wanting to be a doctor so he can treat ALL Malaysians, study so hard to get all A’s but finally being offered a vet course. Their dreams were crashed, they held grudges that education policies in Malaysia were unfair and forced to take alternatives including spending millions of ringgit overseas for a medical degree. Yet they were labelled as rich bugger who can study overseas and if they continued working there (hopefully with higher salaries to recoup the costs of getting their degrees), they are called ingrates. Hey, who in the first place did not appreciate their efforts in studying so hard? It is not difficult to understand why majority of students involved in suicide cases are the Chinese.
Malaysia was built by many pioneer contractors and developers, who were mostly Chinese. Understanding the need for transfer of knowledge and to help Malays build a foundation in business, I can comprehend why government decided to give priority to bumis in getting government projects. Yet the system was being abused non other by the Malays themselves. Instead of learning a trade, Malays fell again into the traps of business-minded Chinese who could always get their ways in almost anything they want. Chinese are well known to be determined and persistent in doing business.The Malays made it a convenience to eventually become middlemen between the government and Chinese contractors, making commissions from these deals. These happened for many years, knowingly but no one wants to solve the core issue. The Chinese felt that they did the work while the Malays get free lunch. The cost-conscious Chinese thinks that the system has increased their costs (with additional “commissions” to be taken into account) and passed the costs to consumers. Then again, Malays blamed the Chinese for always jacking up prices and rake in a lot of profits, further citing the rich gets richer and Malays need more opportunities. If only government contracts and opportunities are on open tenders with equal opportunities for all races, all ethnic groups will compete among each other and eventually grow to be able to compete globally. I don’t deny there were Malays who successfully rise with the system but the majority abused this brilliant system.
Malaysians are understanding. The Chinese understands that they could afford houses while some poorer ones couldn’t. So, it was naturally accepted to have a 5%-7% bumi discounts on housing but what about the poor Indians and hard core poor Chinese? Why are rich Malays who can afford bungalows worth millions of ringgit are still given housing discounts while the middle income non-bumis who couldn’t buy their first dream homes were not further assisted?
So without proper roof over their heads, without equality in education and business which are akin to food on the table, do you think the young generation Chinese grew up to vote for BN come age 21? Do they care how well the PM rubs shoulders with his Chinese counterpart? Do you think that the younger generation even care how much BR1M you provide and how many 1Malaysia projects were being implemented? Do they care how many Chinese schools being built and cash handouts given to their schools when they can’t even realise their dreams when they worked so hard?
The Maslow hierarchy of needs perhaps will help us understand.
If Chinese can stake every penny for education, education is regarded as the basic needs just like food and water. Yet it is an unsolved plague. If we look at the second tier (from below) of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, safety is also a concern but that takes another blog to explain.
So, can solving these issues like equal opportunities in education and business, and fair housing distribution/discounts, bring back Chinese votes in the next general elections?
This blog is an honest expression by the author and carries no intention and prejudice. The opinions expressed may be right, could be wrong, stand to be corrected and open for discussions.